the nest



On the morning of Friday, September 4th I was lying in bed, miserable with the flu. Outside the window I noticed a Little Wattlebird flying busily backwards and forwards building a nest next to the trellis where the clematis grows. It was very cheering and entertaining.

Little Wattlebirds are not that little. Wattlebirds are medium to large honeyeaters. Compared to other species of wattlebirds, the Little Wattlebird is the smallest.

It was a clever place to situate the nest, because from the street and garden it's invisible. But what she didn't realize was its proximity to human habitation, and the human comings and goings.


She was skittish and didn't trust us humans. Often when the window or door was opened she would fly away, up into a nearby tree. She was tense, watching and waiting until the coast was clear so she could return to her nest. I worried she might abandon the nest, or that the eggs be harmed if they were not kept warm all the time. But over time, over a few weeks, she seemed to get used to us, and often stayed where she was, ignoring the noise and movement below.

Little Wattlebirds are very common in Melbourne gardens. It's the female who builds and sits on the eggs, but when the eggs hatch the male helps to care for the chicks.

The sound they make is not lovely. It's not a warble, not a trill, a harsh sound. Apparently it has been known to infuriate people and disturb their sleep.


That bird sat in the nest with short breaks for five weeks. As spring progressed, the Clematis vine grew and new leaves sprouted, providing even more concealment.


Then, suddenly she wasn't there any more. It appeared that she had abandoned the nest.


 I was so disappointed. I was looking forward to watching the chicks hatch, feed, grow and eventually leave the nest. Why did she abandon the nest? Maybe the mother bird met with a sticky end. Maybe for some reason the eggs weren't viable. Maybe she decided it wasn't a safe location after all. There's no way of knowing for sure.


That's nature, not always nice. The nest is empty, the eggs abandoned.


Comments

  1. Oh, that's sad. But you're right--nature can be cruel. I'm not familiar with the Wattlebird. I suppose mainly because I don't live in Australia, but some of your other birds are more familiar, from songs and verse, etc. She does have a distinctive call. I wonder if there's any hope she'll come back? Or is it too late?

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    1. I think it's too late. I've seen her flying around but she doesn't come near the nest any more. Sigh...

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  2. We get Red Wattlebirds here and their calls are much more grating. Last year I watched a nest that also had 2 eggs and was lucky enough to see 1 chick develop, the second egg wasn't fertile. Maybe your Wattlebird will rebuild somewhere else in your garden.

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    1. the weather's got very hot, maybe it will, or maybe it's too late for this year. We get Red Wattlebirds too here. It must have been wonderful to watch the chick develop.

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  3. What a shame she deserted her nest and eggs, it must have been wonderful to see her making her nest so close to you.
    I hope your flu has well and truly gone and that you are feeling 100% once more.

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    1. thanks so much, Pauline, I'm better now.

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  4. Not exactly a fairy tale ending. Nature does things the way Nature sees fit. Perhaps both eggs weren't viable and your wattlebird moved to a different location to try again. Hope you have fully recovered from the flu, Sue.

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  5. oh, and it could have been SO different!

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    1. It was different once, when blackbirds nested on the back deck. I should have posted the link. http://slowgardener.blogspot.com.au/2009/11/blackbirds-bye-bye.html

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  6. nice photos but a sad story. Thanks for sharing xo

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    1. thanks for the visit and comment, Thel.

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  7. That's a shame, but now I know what a Wattlebird sounds like. Interesting sound for those unaccustomed to it, I guess it could get annoying though.

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    1. My favourite are the magpies, worth checking out Youtube.

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  8. It is a shame and also more so that so many people have a rose tinted view of nature, but many stories don't have a happy ending.

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    1. ain't that true, Rick, this is real life.

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  9. My understanding is that when a bird quits a nest it's because of a sense they have that things aren't going to work. That could be seen as sad, but it could also be seen as good judgement.

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    1. I guess it's like a woman having a miscarriage because the foetus isn't developing properly.Thank you for your positive spin, Faisal, lovely to hear from you again.

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  10. I had never heard a wattlebird before, and I could not quit smiling! I am sorry she abandoned the nest. The inside of the nest and the eggs were quite beautiful.

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    1. I was amazed to see the inside of the nest. I don't know how she did it. It looks so soft and inviting.Turns out it was wasted effort.

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  11. Have a look on Facebook for 'Aussie bird carers' (next time).
    https://www.facebook.com/groups/199033233599926/?fref=ts
    Some of these marvellous people have incubators and can sometimes succeed in hatching and rearing abandoned eggs.

    Best to stay further away next time!

    http://birdlifephotography.org.au/about-us/our-policies

    May have abandoned because of disturbance/s, eg predators, competitors, humans, infestations etc.

    Very cute dog hair :)

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    1. We couldn't really stay right away because the nest was just outside our front door. It was such a beautiful nest, lined with soft dog hair, such a shame ...

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  12. Replies
    1. thanks for the info, Debbie. If it ever happens again, I shall definitely contact Aussie bird carers.

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